Climbing the Coconut Tree

Inspired by true events, this is a story about eighteen-year-old Bluey Guthrie who, in 1948 leaves his family to take the job of a lifetime on a remote island in the Central Pacific. Bill and Isobel, seasoned ex-pats help Bluey fit in to a privileged world of parties, dances and sport.

However, the underbelly of island life soon draws him in. Bluey struggles to understand the horrors left behind after the Japanese occupation, the rising fear of communism, and the appalling conditions of the Native and Chinese workers. All this is overseen by the white Colonial power brutalising the land for Phosphate: the new gold.

Isobel has her own demons and watches as Bill battles to keep growing unrest at bay. Drinking and gambling are rife. As racial tensions spill over causing a trail of violence, bloodshed and murder, Bluey is forced to face the most difficult choices of his life.


Adam Hussey, Historical Novel Society said:

The novel was an enjoyable summer read, well written and researched. The descriptive language employed by the writer easily transports you into the Pacific colonial world of the story’s protagonists and puts you, the reader, in amongst the action.  

Check out more of his review at

Nicole Hayes, award winning author of A Shadow’s Breath said:

A fascinating exploration of an era and a part of Australian history I hadn’t heard about before – the novel is clearly well researched, capturing the unique aspects of what appeared to be a very different way of life. The racial undertones, the class tensions, and the layered political context all woven into a tense murder mystery worked a treat. Highly recommended!

Christine G said:

I really enjoyed this book and couldn’t put it down. The characters were well developed and I warmed to Bluey and Isobel. I was engrossed by the colonial lifestyle of the era and was fascinated to learn that it was based on true events. I also learnt a lot about a forgotten island which has undergone so much change. A really good read and highly recommended.

An Amazon customer said:

Terrific debut novel by SC Karakaltsas. Set in a carefully crafted location in the mid Pacific the novel traces the exploits of a young Australian man embarking on adult life. Some interesting twists in the plot and particularly engaging as it is based on true events. I found the mood of the novel captivating and could readily imagine colonial life on a tropical island in the mid 20th century. I look forward to more from this author.